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No parent likes to be tired. God created us to need rest to function and raise up our kids another day. A good night’s rest is a gift, and we see this more clearly when it’s lacking—and let’s be honest: For most parents, quality sleep is often lacking
When the nights are interrupted and the morning starts early, all I want is not to be tired. To feel like I can conquer what’s ahead. To greet the day with joy. Or, to use nap time to accomplish something, rather than give into my need and nap myself.
I’m often so busy fighting tiredness that I forget to look for what God may be doing in and through it. If he promises to work all things for our good, this extends even to our fatigue—so rather than seeing tiredness purely as an unwanted hindrance, we can seek the opportunity within it to look for God’s good purposes.
Five Opportunities Tiredness Gives Us
What might these be? Parents, your tiredness is an opportunity:
To seek God’s plan above your own
I’m never more aware of my desire to control things than when they spin out of control. This includes sleep. When I’m rested, I get the crazy idea that I’m in charge of my day. I carefully craft plans and am sure I’ll execute them. But not on tired days. On tired days, I’m barely getting by. I’m aware of my weaknesses, my needs. I see how my life is in God’s hands.
Tiredness awakens me to the reality that I’m not in control.
And this is a good thing, parents. Scripture says pride comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18)—how often do we pridefully think “we’ve got this”? On tired days, we have an opportunity to taste reality: We’re desperately in need of God, our Sustainer, every moment and all the time. What an unexpected gift, to see clearly through the fog of fatigue!
To identify and kill sin
Being tired also exposes what’s already in my heart. When my guard is down because I’m exhausted, I’m more likely to be unkind and impatient toward others and more demanding of my own wants and needs. I’m more likely to complain against the Lord. I’m more likely to seek comfort and peace in circumstances (think: naps, quiet, food, and ease).
To be honest, I’m not a fan of me when I’m overtired. Yet, tiredness doesn’t cause these sins—it only reveals what’s been lurking within me.
And again, this is a good thing! As parents seeking to trust and follow Jesus and pursue holiness, we want to be on the lookout for sin every day, identifying it, owning it, and fleeing from it. We want to grow in love, abhorring what is evil and holding fast to what is good (Romans 12:9)––and Jesus is gracious to work in us as his Spirit exposes our sin when we’re tired. He uses this exposure to draw us to himself in humility and confession, to rejoice our hearts in his mercy, to mature us in Christlikeness, and ultimately to put himself on display in the world and in our homes.
To receive help from others
Our culture of autonomy and self-sufficiency has groomed us, even unknowingly, to resist anything that will make us look weak. More intrinsic than culture is our sin-nature that rejects the God-dependence we were made for, and that often suspects fellow humans are manipulators and takers, rather than good gifts from God.
But these are challenged when my tank is empty, when all I can do is cry, “Help!” Whether I’m asking for prayer, for help around the house, for wisdom and advice, or for much-needed childcare so I can rest, there’s joy in giving someone the privilege of serving God by serving me, and there’s humility and peace in admitting what I can’t deny: I am limited. I am not God.
When you’re so tired you can barely function, consider this a chance to enjoy the privilege of friendship, family, and fellowship in the body of Christ. Who might you reach out to this week?
To prioritize God’s Word
When we’re hungry, we need to fuel our bodies with food; and when we’re weary and spent, we need to nourish our souls through God’s Word. We need strength in our weakness, the power to endure in our depletion, and true and lasting hope in our discouragement. Jesus gives us this in himself and promises to carry us when we’re heavy-laden and need rest (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus sustains us as we feed on his Word, learning of him as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
Many of us want to be in our Bibles more—and as much as tiredness seems like a detriment to this goal, it can actually help us reach it. How? Just as when our resources are limited we must prioritize, so when our sleep and energy are limited we must do the same. Even if we’re only able to read Scripture and respond in prayer for five minutes, we should prioritize that time with God, trusting he’ll give us what we need the rest of the day (Matthew 6:33).
To point your kids to Christ
In his book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, Paul David Tripp writes that our desire as parents should be to show our kids that we’re more like them than unlike them. All of us need Jesus to rescue us from our sin. We all need Jesus to strengthen us day by day, moment by moment. We all need Jesus to change us into his likeness.
When our tiredness leads to sin and struggle, we have an enormous opportunity to point our children to the one who never grows weary or exhausted, who helps and renews those who wait for him (Isaiah 40:31). We have an open door to believe God’s Word, trust his character, confess to him and our families when we fail, and ultimately share his truth through our words and actions.
Leverage Your Tiredness
Parents, your tiredness may be an unwanted trial, but it’s also an opportunity to trust God. Ask him for grace to see clearly, amid much fatigue, how he’s at work to grow and use you.
And don’t stop asking him for the gift of sleep! He can give it, and so much more.